Present at the Rancho Cucamonga Chamber of Commerce- sponsored event were incumbents Chuck Buquet and Sam Spagnolo, and challengers Erick Jimenez, Jim Moffatt, Anthony Rice and Marc Steinorth.
Issues of discussion revolved around the relationship between city government and the success of businesses in town.
Steinorth said some businesses have a hard time getting people to find their establishment because of city sign restrictions. He cited a case of a local businessman who couldn't get an A-frame sign in front of his business.
"We all know you will not find a business that has been advertised, that you found the address for online, that you're driving to go see, unless you see a sign where that business actually is," said Steinorth, who ran for mayor in 2010.
"For a business to be successful, for them to be able to follow up with an offer, perhaps a call to action, a reason to come into their business, a banner that displays a special price or a special promotion that they're having to try to boost ... year-end sales, those are reasonable things for a business to have to do. For our city to restrict that, restricts growth. We all know this city is really dependent on sales tax revenue, so it doesn't make sense.
Rice responded to a question on whether the city has appropriately budgeted for public safety needs.
"I do know that if we're in a situation where we're paying our past public employees more than our current ones, that's going to affect public safety. The economy is a big huge issue that affects public safety," said Rice, a small business owner who said he running on a platform of limited government and free enterprise.
"It's not just the amount of money that goes to public safety. I do think that it can be looked at and adjusted."
Buquet, who was appointed to fill the remaining two years of Mayor Dennis Michael's former council seat in 2010, was asked about the future outlook of economic development for the city. He cited recent city action to position staff throughout city departments to work toward economic development in the wake of the state's dissolution of redevelopment agencies.
"We've restructured our staffing," Buquet said. "A lot of our key staff that were working economic development are in key positions within our departments promoting economic development. I want all of our employees to be economic development representatives."
Moffatt, a local coffee shop owner, spoke about the kinds of qualities a successful council member would have. Moffatt also ran for council in 2010.
"You cannot stand up there and sit there and look down at people ... and say you people are only here to be on TV," Moffatt said.
"I think that when people come and have concerns and issues, listen to them and seek out an answer. You don't always have to always agree but you have to listen and have an answer one way or another. Right or wrong, you must take care of the citizens in Rancho Cucamonga, and not demean their character and make them feel like second-class citizens."
Spagnolo, an incumbent who is a retired fire captain of the Rancho Cucamonga Fire District, was asked if he would support higher fees and taxes on businesses.
"On that issue, I don't support new taxes or higher fees," Spagnolo said. "I think that any new development that comes into the city should pay it's own way so it doesn't become a burden on existing businesses and people in the community."
Jimenez, a Fed-Ex driver who ran for City Council in 2010, was asked if the city should use tax money to attract businesses to the district.
"We shouldn't be using taxpayer dollars just to enrich somebody," Jimenez said. "If we are using taxpayer dollars to relocate businesses to move into the city, it has to be a business that creates jobs. Not just any jobs ... we need manufacturing jobs. We need jobs where someone can make a living, and someone can raise a family on. I think we have a huge task in front of us, and we need a council that actually recognizes the needs of the working people."
Questions for each candidate were randomly pulled out of a hat by the moderator, who kept each response to three minutes each. Participants were also given a three-minute rebuttal period.